Five years into fertility treatments at the age of 35, I decided to take a much-needed break. I could no longer bear the thought of one more early morning doctor’s appointment, invasive ultrasound, or painful injection. My infertility had taken over my life, and I needed to get it back.
A year into this self-imposed hiatus, a family friend approached my mother about passing on the name of her Naturopathic doctor to me. In addition to knowing of women who had achieved pregnancy while under his care, she herself had been greatly helped by him. It was because of him that she was able to break her dependency on all of the pharmaceutical medications she had been taking since the tragic loss of her 11 year-old son to cancer.
Keeping this in mind, I took his name and number, albeit reluctantly. The last thing I wanted was to think about my infertility.
I was still grieving but my life had become my own again and I didn’t want to risk losing control.
One night, I fired up my laptop assuring myself that a little peek wouldn’t hurt. I learned that he had been a licensed Family Physician in India, having specialized in Ayurveda — the traditional Indian System of Medicine and that he had been a practicing Registered Naturopath in the region of Hamilton, Ontario for the past 25 years.
A week later, on a beautiful May afternoon, I found myself driving along the Niagara escarpment, complete with a country meat market and several fruit stands advertising local produce for sale.
Once in his office, I told him of my unexplained infertility diagnosis and that I had not benefited from any medical treatments ranging from monitored cycles all the way to IVF. I also reminded him that I was 36 years old.
He nodded and smiled, and seemingly unfazed by my declarations, continued to take notes. After pricking my finger to gather up a drop of blood that he placed on a slide, he showed me my blood on a screen.
All I saw were clouds and bubbles, but he saw something else entirely.
“Too much yeast, which means too much sugar.” “Do you eat a lot of sweets?”, he asked.
“I try not to.”
“Pasta, bread? ”
“Well, I grew up with Italian parents”, I laughed. “So, yes.”
He told me gently but firmly. “All white flour and sugar as well as dairy, with the exception of plain yogurt, needs to go.”
He then spent a fair amount of time drawing lines and arrows on a piece of paper, illustrating the intricacies of the female reproductive hormones. He explained how what a woman eats can affect, and possibly disrupt, this incredibly delicate system.
I left there with detailed dietary instructions as well as nutritional supplements such as a B6 vitamin complex, probiotics, and iron.
The next day after work, I filled my shopping cart with fresh vegetables, chicken, fish, legumes, quinoa, and absolutely no white flour or sugar. Each day, I planned out my meals methodically. I soaked beans overnight in the sink. I chopped up carrots and celery and made soup. I washed loads of leafy romaine lettuce and spinach and boiled eggs. I coloured my decaf coffee with a splash of unsweetened almond milk. No more frothy cappuccinos and chocolate treats to soothe myself after a failed cycle.
Within a month, the effects were obvious.
My clothes fit looser, my energy levels increased and my PMS symptoms greatly improved. Over the next six months I continued to eat and live this way and realized that instead of losing control, I was gaining it. I had spent years focusing my energy on the next pill, injection or procedure that might help me achieve pregnancy and in the process completely neglected my own physical and mental health. I was now in complete control of what I put into my body and for the first time in a very long time, I experienced results. They didn’t come in the form of two pink lines on a home pregnancy test but in how amazing and empowered I felt.
So with this new attitude, I returned to the fertility clinic with what I hoped were healthier eggs and a body that was more receptive to creating and growing another human being. After an initial disappointing cycle, the next one gave us our first positive pregnancy test in seven years.
This is not the story of a miracle cure. It’s a story of a woman who shifted gears, took back control and embraced a new lifestyle. It’s a story of a woman who put herself first, and spent months nourishing her body so that it could possibly one day nourish a baby.
By Lori Sebastianutti